Newspapers Adopt Blog Linking Strategy

Posted on July 31, 2006

A New York Times article reports that some newspapers are starting to adopt the linking out strategy used by many blogs. Caroline H. Little, chief executive and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, says five years ago the strategy was more about stickiness or keeping readers on the site.

Online media outlets like Slate or Salon prominently feature their links to other sites and some, particularly blogs, are built around the strength of their links. But newspapers have been reluctant to direct readers outside their own gates. These deals with Inform are but one indication that newspapers may be reconsidering long-held beliefs about how to compete, and cooperate, with other publishers.

"Five years ago, everybody said you have to keep readers on your site, with no links out to other sites," said Caroline H. Little, chief executive and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the online division of the Washington Post Company. "But ultimately, people will go where they want to go."

"To the extent we can provide them more Washington Post video or more information from around the Web, we're all for it," Ms. Little added. "And we get the benefit of that, too, because we get a lot of referrals from the Web, also."

The article says some newspapers are going to be using technology from Inform.com, an online news aggregator. Inform.com's service will generate relevant articles from other news sources that the publisher can run next to their own news stories. This will be a bonus for online newspaper readers because it will allow them to easily find more news stories covering the same topic. However, blogs go one step beyond this in that the links bloggers provide are hand-picked by people and not automatically generated from algorithms. The New York Times article did mention some newspapers where journalists were inserting competitor links themselves.
There are instances where the Post's Web site already links to stories from these competitors. For instance, in the online version of his "White House Briefing" column last week, Dan Froomkin included a link to a New York Times story from the previous week. According to Jim Brady, the executive editor of Washingtonpost.com, reporters or Web producers can insert links to another paper's site when they see fit.

"We think it's the right thing to do," Mr. Brady said. "It seems limiting to tell people about something another news organization has reported and not point them to it. It goes against the Web's DNA."

We have also seen many newspaper blogs linking directly to competitors over the past six to twelves months.



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